Read: I Timothy 6:3-19
There is an old proverb about wealth that goes like this: “Money is like a brick. With a brick, you can build hospitals or you can break windows. It all depends on what you do with it.” For the past 40 years my father has helped families financially prepare for their future. Over the past year, I have been acquiring licenses and going through training so that I can be in a position to run his business if God takes him home unexpectedly. In my training, I have heard many stories of nameless clients who have amassed large amounts of money and how this financial gain either accelerated their generosity or slowly transferred their faith and security from Christ to their resources.
Paul’s warning to Timothy in our passage this week echoes a principle repeated over and over again throughout the Scriptures. Every good gift (including our money) comes to us from the Father (James 1:17), and we are simply temporary stewards of these resources (Matthew 25:14-30). However, we must be wary of the allurement of riches (I Timothy 6:10). Satan would love nothing more than to take what is given to you as a gift from the Father and turn your heart to love the gift more than the Giver (Mark 10:17-27).
This is not a temptation that needs to be checked every once in a while. We are fish swimming in an ocean of materialism especially at this time of year. Please hear me: there is nothing wrong with the giving and receiving of gifts during this season of remembering God’s incomparable gift of Christ. This is my FAVORITE time of year because I get to experience the pinnacle of generosity and humility in the incarnation that we try to mimic in a very small way through our celebration. But, I would be dishonest to say that my hope of a happy Christmas has often been attached to some material gift that I might receive. How quickly my heart can turn!
This is why I need the gospel every day and every moment. I’m dependent upon the mercy of Jesus with every breath, lest my flesh rise up and believe that I deserve that last gulp of oxygen and life. My flesh might also believe that not only do I deserve gifts this season, but I also deserve gifts that fit my desires perfectly. My flesh wants to rise up and declare that the universe should bend to my every wish.
As my father was building a business helping others accumulate wealth, his own accounts also grew. The generosity that his wealth has produced has been an incredible mercy to behold. It has blessed his church as well as our extended family, missionaries, church planters, and North Wake.
Of the many lessons I have learned from him, perhaps the most important was summarized by Paul in our passage today.
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
He has often reminded me that if all of the good gifts we enjoy today were to disappear tomorrow with the crash of the stock market, the destruction of our democracy, or even the loss of those we love, we’re going to be ok. Ultimately, all of those things are temporary. They are uncertain. But God is not temporary or uncertain. He is eternal, and His purposes and promises are unthwartable. This truth brings a peace that is not dependent on a bank account balance.
We’ve been blessed to be a blessing. This idea is in the DNA of North Wake. Whether it be through our benevolence ministry, our missions giving, our caring for the needs within our congregation, or our neighbor to neighbor pledges that serve those around us, our elders have always encouraged us to think of others as more important than ourselves and to be generous. I pray we excel all the more!